Plea Bargaining And Sentencing In Buffalo Criminal Courts

Buffalo Criminal defendants benefit from plea bargaining by eliminating the uncertainty of a criminal trial and avoiding  the maximum sentence. The prosecution also benefits by not having to prove their case and allowing them to handle more cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court in  Santobello v. New York  noted that the disposition of charges after plea discussions is not only an essential part of the process but a highly desirable part for many reasons.

  • It leads to prompt and largely final disposition of most criminal cases;
  • It avoids much of the corrosive impact of enforced idleness during pretrial confinement for those who are denied release pending trial;
  • It protects the public from those accused persons who are prone to continue criminal conduct even while on pretrial release;
  • And, by shortening the time between charge and disposition, it enhances whatever may be the rehabilitative prospects of the guilty when they are ultimately imprisoned.

Your Buffalo criminal defense lawyer will attempt to resolve or dispose of your case without a trial through plea bargaining with the prosecutor. A plea bargain can take a variety of forms. The prosecutor may ask that you plead guilty in exchange for his or her promise to recommend to the judge that a particular sentence be imposed.

In certain cases, the prosecutor may offer to allow you to plead guilty to a less serious offense than the one with which you are charged. Such a plea reduces the range of sentences that the judge may impose.

The judge is the only one who can decide what your sentence will be, subject to limits set by law. All plea bargains must be approved by the judge.

Plea bargaining may continue up to or even during trial. If you do not want a trial, you may always plead guilty to all the charges  against you whether or not the prosecutor agrees. The judge will then decide your sentence.

There are sentence ranges for all offenses. Offenses are arranged in these categories: felony, misdemeanor, and violation. Each category is further divided into classes.

A New York felony is a crime for which you can receive a sentence of imprisonment of more than one year or a sentence of death for the crime of murder in the first degree. The classes of felony offenses are: AI, AII, B, C, D, and E .

A New York misdemeanor is a crime for which you can receive a jail sentence of one year or less. The classes of misdemeanor offenses are A and B misdemeanors. Jail sentences for violations may not be greater than fifteen days.

A non-jail sentence may also be imposed, such as a term of probation for misdemeanors and certain felonies, or a conditional discharge, unconditional discharge, restitution, or a fine. Sometimes, a non-jail sentence may be imposed along with a jail sentence. In such a case, the probationary sentence is served after the jail sentence.

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